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harmony remotes-can they cope?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Control & Remote Controls' started by martin day, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. martin day

    martin day
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    I'm tempted by a 655 at least, but I wonder how these remotes cope with the ever increasing no. of buttons on original remotes. For example I now have ToshRXDS34 DVD recorder and the amount of buttons on the remote such as library menu, content menu, HDD, DVD, timeslip etc how are these replicated on the Harmony especially as it says that all u have to do is put in your equipment spec and it will download all the functions?
     
  2. Richard46

    Richard46
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    Hi Martin

    Obviously the Harmony has a standard set of most used hard buttons see here .

    Plus the screen has three buttons each side. Labels for the buttons that dont match the standard ones appear against the six buttons. So you get six extra buttons. You can press Next and the next page of six buttons appears and so on with no limit that I have found. Each device and activity has its own set of button labels.
    The number of buttons you can label it therefore effectively without limit; although I assume there must be one somewhere. :)
    The disadadvantage is obviously that only six extra buttons are available without scrolling. However you can reorder the buttons to put your 1st six most used on the front page and son on.
    The 855 is the same but it has eight buttons per screen.

    Hope this is clear
    Richard
     
  3. martin day

    martin day
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    Thanks Richard. So once you download the data do these buttons come pre-labelled for example as with my TOSH would one of these labels read 'HDD'?
     
  4. Richard46

    Richard46
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    If the Tosh is in the logitech database and if it has a button on the remote called that it should do. If for some reason it did not the Harmony can learn codes from the original.

    You can try a test drive and load your kit to see what buttons it automatically allocates and where to. See middle of this page

    Richard
     
  5. martin day

    martin day
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    Thanks again. One more question I forgot to ask. With the specific buttons such as watch movie are these macros that you have to set up yourself as obviously you may want the amp to come on for surround sound for movies but if you just want to watch TV you may just want TV and SKY to switch on? At the moment I have a Theater Master mX500 for the USA which is a great remote but doesn't have all the colured buttons that are specific to UK for SKY for example and also with the macros it doesn't recognise whether a piece of equipment is already on and so would then switch this off when the macro was pressed. Am I right in thinking that the Harmony can read whether a device is already on and would therefore 'ignore' that part of the macro?
     
  6. Richard46

    Richard46
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    Hi Martin

    Yes the activity buttons like Watch TV are basically macros. The Harmony automatically guesses which ones you will need based on the kit you tell it you have. For some people that is it. :) . You can edit the ones it gives you and you can add your own. If you have more than three activities the more activity button puts them on the screen buttons as described in my first post.
    If you watch TV with two different sound setups I would reccomend having two different activities.
    The Harmony knows what signals where sent at the start of an activity and assumes they are still set the same when you switch to another one. It will not know if you have turned something on/off while in that activity as far as I can tell anyway. The help button can usually sort out things when this happens but it is best not to have to do this. If you have set up activities properly you should not have to toggle power buttons so the problem should not arise; hopefully.

    Richard
     
  7. dml

    dml
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    I posted this on another forum but it seems relevant here:

    I recently bought a 655 to replace an old Pronto TS1000 in use since 1999, not
    because I was unhappy with the Pronto, but because I (and other family members)
    wanted a remote with more hard buttons. I assumed (wrongly) that the technology
    would have moved on significantly in the last 6 years! :eek:

    As far as I can tell there is NOTHING the 655 can do that the Pronto can't. The
    only advantage the Harmony range has over the Pronto is that they are "state
    aware", very usefull when switching between activities. For me this is not a
    significant issue as all my devices have discrete On/Off & Input Selection
    commands.
    I had the Pronto set up with three "activities" on the Home screen:
    • Watch TV
    • Watch a DVD
    • Switch Off
    Just like a Harmony. :)

    What's good about the 655:
    • Size & shape. Very comfortable to hold & easier to use one handed than the Pronto.
    • Dedicated hard buttons. Can be operated by touch without having to look at
      the screen. I know some of the newer Prontos have more hard buttons but there
      is no real comparison.

    What is BAD about the 655:
    • No macro facility. Yes I know you can get around this with clone devices but
      that is only in Activity mode. With the Pronto, any key can be programmed with any
      sequence of IR commands, delays & a page jump to anywhere else. You used to be a
      ble to use macros on the 768 but Harmony have removed this feature for the 6xx &
      8xx series. Why?
    • Inability to change the order of commands sent at the start of an activity.
      No Harmony, you don't know the optimum sequence for my equipment!
    • The web based programming tool is OK for the initial setup of the device for
      a new user but is unbelievably tedious for advanced tweaking. That is assuming
      the web site is available!
    • Having to go through support to add Pronto codes. You used to be able to do
      this from the web site via the IR Analysis function but Harmony have removed
      this feature! Why?
    • The complete inability for the user to control the positioning & grouping of
      commands on the LCD screen.This is completely unacceptable. The programming
      interface should reflect the actual hardware configuration and be grouped in
      pages of 4 or 6 commands (as configured), with the ability to set the row/column
      where the command will appear. Searching the forums indicates users have been complaining
      about this for over a year! Come on Harmony get your finger out!
    • Harmony (lack of) support. Although I have read many positive postings
      regarding the support received by other users, my expericnce has not been so
      good. It would appear that only telephone support works, e-mail doesn't. I've
      sent two via the web site & had no response. I don't accept the principle that
      a Harmony support person can tweak my configuration to make it do things I can
      not do via the programming interface. That just tells me the the programming interface is
      not up to the job.
    • Why does the "Download Software/Firmware" facility require you to uninstall
      your existing software first? The first thing it should do is indicate what the
      latest versions available are and determine what your current versions are. You
      should then be given the option to upgrade or reinstall as appropriate. Yes
      Harmony, there are still users out there in the real world with dial up
      connections!

    Over all opinion:
    Hardware: 9/10
    Software: 2/10

    Just my two cents FWIW.
     
  8. martin day

    martin day
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    R u saying that you CAN'T change the order of command that Harmony would set up say to WATCH MOVIE.

    Also what if you have a DVD recorder/player and a separate DVD player in your set up which one would Harmony choose as your DVD player?
     
  9. Richard46

    Richard46
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    Hi dml

    Would agree with much of your post although I cannot say that many of the negatives on your Harmony list have proved a major problem personally.

    However I dont understand the comment above. No doubt I have missed your point somewhere but I can change the order of the buttons by the LCD screen and the feature is not all that difficult to find.
    Customise Activity
    Change behaviour of buttons
    At the bottom of the next screen you can edit the LCD buttons; I have just switched some around in the last few minutes. No problem. I admit they dont appear in two columns as they do on the LCD which would make it a tad easier but they do appear in the same order.

    NB perhaps a price comparison would also have been relevant in a comparison chart. :)

    Richard
     
  10. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
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    its true that you can't change the order commands are sent, but you can pre-program delays so that the remote can cope with tv's not responding to IR for 2 seconds and things like that. in practice, the order commands are sent is rarely an issue.

    of course, the harmony knows to turn on the device before setting it to channel x etc; it doesn't just spit out commands in random order :)

    i agree with some of dml's bad points, although I personally don't find macros as useful as activity mode (which does it all for me with a bit of tweaking occasionally)

    another cool thing about harmony is if you have a problem, eg command was not received by the target device (knee in the way or something like that), you can press help and the remote will talk you through device states, is the dvd on? is the tv on? makes it very easy for anyone using your av system to correct mistakes.
     
  11. dml

    dml
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    Correct. Well at least in so far as the basic devices (TV, DVD, AV Amp) is concerned. :thumbsdow The sequence of commands to these devices can not be adjusted. If you add additional devices to an Activity you can move the commands sent to these devices around, but they can only be positioned AFTER the basic devices.

    I haven't tried it, but you might be able to get round this by deleting the activity, creating ALL your devices & then setting up an activity by adding one device at a time, in the order you want them. However there is no guarantee the Harmony web site won't reorder the sequence according to it's own rules. :suicide:

    You would define two devices, your DVD player & your DVR. Then set up two activities:
    • Watch DVD (using player)
    • Watch/Record DVD (using DVR)

    You can configure which of these is attached to the Watch Movie hard button. They will both be available on the LCD screen under "More Activities" button.
     
  12. dml

    dml
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    OK I'll explain.

    My screen is configured to use 4 buttons with the activity name on the top line.
    On my "Watch SKY" activity I have set up three commands on the LCD screen. The commands are "Info" for the Sky+ box and "Light On" & "Light Off" for an X-10 controlled light behind the TV. What ever order I insert them on the web site, they are ALWAYS re-ordered "Info", "Light Off" on the middle row, with "Light On" on the bottom left.

    The Harmony programming interface displays LCD commands grouped by device, irrespective of the order you enter them. The appear to be sequenced alphabetically within each device.
    There is no way to force it to put "Light On" "Light Off", in that order, on the bottom row. So there is no way for me to configure the 655 to have these two commands appear in the same place across multiple activities.

    It would also be useful to be able to organise commands by pages, so that for example, you could put two regularly used commands on the first page, and other more rarely used commands hidden away on a second page which you would access via the Next button. Even better would be the ability to use a button to jump to another page of commands. Either option would be a trivial programming change for Harmony.

    All these features have been available for years on the Pronto. Would that Philips produced a Pronto with hard keys & screen like the Harmony remotes. :lease:

    Does that make it clearer?
     
  13. cerebros

    cerebros
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    Richard - whereabouts does it do this? I've followed the test drive thing through to the end and the only thing it allowed me to do was enter the devices and save activities. I didn't get anything showing what buttons would be available, although I did get a window pop-up that didn't load anything.
     
  14. Richard46

    Richard46
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    On the Home page to see the device buttons go to one of the device boxes on the left hand side and click 'more options' then chose 'Customise the device mode fro this TV (or whatever it is).

    I am sure this takes you to a grid with buttons lined up against commands for that device. Sure the test drive used to do this just as the normal software does.

    To see the buttons/commands in activity mode; click 'customise' in one of the device boxes and on the next menu choose 'Change behaviour of buttons'. Hope this works.

    Richard
     

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